Cheongryeonam Hermitage – 청련암 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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Cheongryeonam Hermitage to the east of Namjijangsa Temple in southern Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Cheongryeonam Hermitage is located east of its affiliated Namjijangsa Temple. Both are located in southern Daegu on the south side of Mt. Choijeongsan (905m). Like Namjijangsa Temple, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was first constructed in 684 A.D. by a monk named Yanggae. Both were constructed on the behest of the Silla king, King Sinmun (r. 681-692). Like Namjijangsa Temple, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was completely destroyed by the invading Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-1598). Cheongryeonam Hermitage, during the Imjin War, was used as a training centre for warrior monks. The hermitage was rebuilt several times from 1653 to 1714. Once more, the hermitage was destroyed by fire in 1806. The current hermitage structures date back to 1808.

Cheongryeonam Hermitage is situated just 200 metres to the east of Namjijangsa Temple through a beautiful lush forest. Past a hillside full of picnic benches, and along the dirt trail, you’ll finally come to the outskirts of the hermitage grounds.

The first thing to greet you, as you make your way towards the eastside entry gate, is a tall traditional stone fence. Upon entering the squeaky three door gate, you’ll be welcomed by an “L” shaped main hall, which also acts as the monks’ dorms.

To the right of the main hall is a storage shed, which is joined by a biseok statue. As to the left of the main hall, there is the hermitage’s garden from which the monks draw sustenance. It’s also joined by another storage shed.

To the rear of the main hall, and the real highlight to this temple, is the unpainted Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. The shaman shrine hall is surrounded on all sides by dense shrubs and hydrangeas. On the front side of the Samseong-gak are four fading paintings of guardians. As you step inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, you’ll be welcomed by a collection of paintings dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). These paintings are joined on the far right wall by an older, yet beautiful, guardian mural. Also, have a look at the low-lying beams inside this shaman shrine hall. In particular, look for the vibrant murals of the blue dragons.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Daegu train station, walk about 15 minutes (930 metres), to get to Chilseong market (where the NH Bank is located) bus stop. Take the bus that reads “Gachang2” on it. After 50 stops, or one hour, get off at the “Urokri” (last stop) and walk about 2.7 km, or 41 minutes, to get to the temple. When at Namjijangsa Temple, head right while travelling through the temple parking lot. Head up a dirt road for about 200 metres until you come to Cheongryeonam Hermitage.

You can take a bus or simply take a taxi from the Daegu train station. The ride takes about 50 minutes and costs 23,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. Cheongryeonam Hermitage is beautifully located on the southern side of Mt. Choijeongsan. The trail leading up to the hermitage is one of the more beautiful you’ll find in this area. But without a doubt, the real highlight to this temple is the unpainted Samseong-gak; and rather strangely, the tall stone wall that acts as a barrier between the outside world and Cheongryeonam Hermitage is a highlight, as well.

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The dirt road that leads up to the hermitage.

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The beautiful vista along the way.

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The dirt road and forest as you near Cheongryeonam Hermitage.

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The entry gate to the diminutive hermitage.

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The main hall and monks’ living quarters at Cheongryeonam Hermitage.

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The hermitage’s garden and storage shed.

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The path that leads up to the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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A look up at the camouflaged Samseong-gak shaman shrine.

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Rather uniquely, the Samseong-gak is unpainted all but for the four guardians at the entries.

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One of the decorative guardians.

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As well as another.

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The Sanshin mural housed inside the Samseong-gak.

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The older guardian mural housed inside the Samseong-gak, as well.

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This blue decorative dragon adorns one of the Samseong-gak’s roof beams.

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And the view from the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

Namjijangsa Temple – 남지장사 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The view from the Samseong-gak at Namjijangsa Temple in southern Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Situated south of the Daegu city centre, and south of the towering Mt. Choijeongsan (905m), is Namjijangsa Temple. The name of the temple means “South Bodhisattva of the Afterlife,” which shouldn’t be confused with Bukjijangsa Temple to the north of the Daegu city centre.

Namjijangsa Temple was first established in 684 A.D. by the monk Yanggae. Eventually, Namjijangsa Temple would grow to eight shrine halls, as well as a bell pavilion and the Cheonwangmun Gate. However, in 1592, like much of Korea, the temple was completely destroyed by the Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-98). Afterwards, from 1652 to 1769, the temple underwent an extensive rebuild. Historically, the famed warrior monk Samyeong-daesa used Namjijangsa Temple as the staging site for battles against the Japanese during the Imjin War. The temple functioned as a headquarters for the Yeongnam region. Also, it was home, at one point in his life, to the monk Muhak, who would help advise the Goryeo Dynasty founding king, King Taejo.

You first approach Namjijangsa Temple down some country roads, until you eventually arrive at the temple parking lot. It’s next to a beautiful large water fountain that you’ll climb a set of stone stairs on your way through the temple entry gate. The entry gate, rather uniquely, houses the temple bell. At some temples, the temple bell is housed on the second floor, but not at Namjijangsa Temple. As you pass through the entry gate, you’ll see the bell to your right through wooden slats.

Finally entering the main temple courtyard, you’ll notice the monks’ quarters to your left and the visitors’ centre to your right. Straight ahead rests the Daeung-jeon Hall. In front of the main hall stands a five tier stone pagoda that’s adorned with various trinkets that visitors have left behind as a sign of devotion. Adorning the exterior walls to the main hall is a beautiful set of Palsang-do murals, which depict the eight scenes from the Buddha’s life. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on both sides by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Rounding out the interior of the main hall is a massive guardian mural hanging on the far right wall.

To the right rear of the main hall is the temple’s Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Both the Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars) murals are of a red hue, but it’s the angry tiger tail holding Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) that is the main highlight to this shaman shrine hall.

To the left of the main hall sits the newly constructed Geukrak-jeon Hall. As you enter the hall have a look at the amazing dragon doors. At the base of these doors are some amazing Nathwi (Monster Masks). As for the interior, and resting on the packed main altar, are a triad of statues centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul).

And just left of the Geukrak-jeon Hall, in an open pavilion under a canopy, is a shrine for Yongwang (The Dragon King). The large painting dedicated to Yongwang is joined by a spring.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Daegu train station, walk about 15 minutes (930 metres), to get to Chilseong market (where the NH Bank is located) bus stop. Take the bus that reads “Gachang2” on it. After 50 stops, or one hour, get off at the “Urokri” (last stop) and walk about 2.7 km, or 41 minutes, to get to the temple.

You can take a bus or simply take a taxi from the Daegu train station. The ride takes about 50 minutes and costs 23,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Without a doubt, the biggest highlight to this temple is the curmudgeonly Sanshin painting in the Samseong-gak. Adding to the temple’s overall appeal is the large guardian mural inside the main hall, the Yongwang mural, as well as the temple’s beautiful location.

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The entry to Namjijangsa Temple.

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The temple bell that’s housed inside the entry gate.

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The slender five-tier pagoda with the Daeung-jeon Hall behind it.

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One of the Palsang-do murals that depicts the Buddha’s life.

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The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall with Seokgamoni-bul front and centre.

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The view from the Daeung-jeon Hall out towards the main temple courtyard.

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The visitors’ centre at Namjijangsa Temple.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at the temple.

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An all-red Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) mural.

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Joined by this angry looking Sanshin inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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The beautiful view at Namjijangsa Temple.

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The Geukrak-jeon Hall to the left of the main hall.

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This amazing Nathwi adorns one of the Geukrak-jeon Hall’s doors.

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The main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall with Amita-bul sitting in the centre.

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And to the left of the Geukrak-jeon Hall is this shrine for Yongwang (The Dragon King).

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An up close of the Yongwang mural.

Colonial Korea: Donghwasa Temple – 동화사 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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An overview of Donghwasa Temple in Daegu in 1932.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Donghwasa Temple, which means Paulownia Blossom Temple,” in English, was first established in northern Daegu on the southern slopes of Mt. Palgongsan in 493 A.D. The temple was first constructed through the efforts of monk Geukdal-jonja. The name of the temple is linked to the temple’s creation story. According to legend, the name of the temple comes from Donghwasa Temple’s reconstruction in 832 A.D. At that time, and during the middle of winter, the wild paulownia trees bloomed all around the temple grounds. So it was at this time that the temple changed its name from Yugasa Temple to Donghwasa Temple. The reconstruction of the temple occurred because of the efforts of the monk Simji-wangsa. And all of this happened during the reign of King Heungdeok (r. 826-836).

The last of Donghwasa Temple’s major rebuilds took place in 1732. And the last major addition to Donghwasa Temple took place in the fall of 1992 with the addition of the thirty metre tall statue of Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) to the south of the main temple courtyard. This statue of Yaksayore-bul was constructed in hopes of having the Korean peninsula one day reunified.

From the day of its reconstruction in 832 A.D., and throughout its long storied history, Donghwasa Temple remains one of the most important temples throughout the Korean peninsula. In fact, Donghwasa Temple was one of only four temples during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) to administer the civil service exam for monks. And even during the highly restrictive, Confucian led, Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Donghwasa Temple not only continued to flourish but it also continued to grow in size, as well. In total, Donghwasa Temple and its associated hermitages house nine Korean Treasures.

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The flagpole supports at Donghwasa Temple in 1916, which are Treasure #254.

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The Iljumun Gate at the temple.

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The Daeung-jeon main hall in 1932, which is Treasure #1563.

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A look around its exterior walls.

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And a look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The Geukrak-jeon Hall in 1932.

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And a look around its exterior walls.

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The Donghwasa Temple grounds from 2005.

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A look up at the main hall during Buddha’s birthday in 2013.

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Buddha’s birthday in 2013.

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The 1992 extension as seen in 2013.

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A closer look at Yaksayore-bul during Buddha’s birthday.

Yugasa Temple – 유가사 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The view from the Sanshin-gak towards the main hall at Yugasa Temple in Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on the western slopes of Mt. Biseulsan in southern Daegu, Yugasa Temple dates back to 829 A.D. The temple was founded by the monk Doseong-guksa. The temple was constructed by Doseong-guksa on Mt. Biseulsan because the mountains that surround Yugasa Temple look like a screen for serene meditation.

Up a long winding countryside road is Yugasa Temple. The first few things to greet you at the temple are a couple of fields of stone pagodas (some of which are shaped like turtles). Through one of the stone stupa fields, and under a stone arched entry way, you’ll make your way up towards the Cheonwangmun Gate. The entire time you’re climbing the uneven set of stairs towards the temple grounds, the peak of Mt. Biseulsan hovers in the background and beautifully frames Yugasa Temple.

Emerging on the other side of the empty Cheonwangmun Gate, you’ll see the newly built bronze roofed Boje-ru Pavilion. To the far right of this pavilion is an old guardian shrine for the protection of the land that the temple sits upon. As for the Boje-ru, and after entering the main temple courtyard, you’ll be able to look back and enter the pavilion. Housed inside this large pavilion, and sitting on the large main altar to the right, are a triad of statues centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s joined on either side by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) and Nosana-bul (The Perfect Body Buddha). The triad is then surrounded on all sides by smaller statues of the Buddha. And to the left of the main altar hangs a painting dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). The exterior walls to the large Boje-ru Pavilion have yet to be painted with their intricate dancheong colours. It can only be imagined just how beautiful this pavilion can truly be when completed.

Straight ahead of the Boje-ru Pavilion is the temple’s main hall. Except for the dancheong colours, the exterior walls to the main hall are unadorned. As for inside the main hall, a triad of statues sit on the main altar. The central image is Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the left rear of the main altar hangs an older-looking image of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). And on the far right wall hangs the temple’s guardian mural.

To the right of the main hall stands a newly built shrine hall that has yet to be occupied by a Buddha or Bodhisattva. However, the exterior walls to this hall have some of the cutest Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals that you’ll find in Korea with a child-like monk attempting to find enlightenment. It is joined to the right by a historic statue dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul.

To the left of the main hall stands Yugasa Temple’s Nahan-jeon. And up the hillside, and past the low lying blue paper lanterns that line the route, stands the newly built Sanshin-gak. The large hall overlooks the rest of the temple grounds, and housed inside this hall is a beautiful, large image dedicated to the Mountain Spirit.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Daegu Train Station, walk to get to the subway station, it takes only 3 minutes. It’s called the Daegu Station on the first line. Take the subway towards the Daegok subway stop. 15 stops later, or 30 minutes, get off at Daegok Station and take exit #1 out of the station. From there, you’ll find the Daegok bus stop. You’ll need to take Bus #600. After 40 stops, or an hour and thirty-five minutes, get off at the Yugasa stop, which is the last stop of the route. From there, walk 10 minutes towards the temple.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. With a fair bit of new construction at this temple like the bronze roofed Boje-ru and the large Sanshin-gak, it’s beautifully blended with the historic main hall and the guardian shrine that lies at the entry of the temple gates. In addition to these structures, the temple also houses a beautiful collection of artwork that includes the historic Dokseong mural, the large Sanshin mural, and the Shimu-do artwork on the yet to be assigned shrine hall. And all of this is beautifully situated just south of the peaks of Mt. Biseulsan.

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The stone stupa entryway at Yugasa Temple.

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A closer look at one of the stone stupas.

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The path that leads up to the temple grounds.

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At the entry of the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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The old guardian shrine hall at the entry of Yugasa Temple.

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The big, bronze Boje-ru Pavilion at the temple.

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A look inside the pavilion.

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The main altar inside the Boje-ru Pavilion with Birojana-bul front and centre.

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The view from the Boje-ru out onto the main hall.

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A better look at the main hall, Nahan-jeon, and Samseong-gak at Yugasa Temple.

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The main altar inside the main hall.

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As well as the historic Dokseong mural.

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A guardian statue at the entry of the Nahan-jeon.

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The main altar inside the Nahan-jeon.

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One of the Nahan statues apparently taking donations.

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One of the cute Ox-Herding murals.

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The historic statue of Seokgamoni-bul at Yugasa Temple.

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A view of the temple courtyard.

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A view of the neighbouring hillside with even more stone pagodas.

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A look towards the Sanshin-gak from the main hall.

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The beautiful view from the Sanshin-gak towards the neighbouring mountains.

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And the amazing Mountain Spirit mural inside the Sanshin-gak.

Yongyeonsa Temple – 용연사 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The guardian murals inside the Geukrak-jeon main hall at Yongyeonsa Temple in Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Yongyeonsa Temple, which is located north of Mt. Biseulsan, and south of Daegu, was first established in 912 A.D. by the monk Boyang. The name of the temple, Yongyeonsa Temple, means “Dragon Flying to the Sky Temple,” in English. According to a legend, a dragon lived in a pond at the temple. By flying up into the sky, the dragon became a divine being. Repaired in 1419 by the monk Cheonil, the temple suffered severe damage by the invading Japanese in 1592. Finally, in 1728, the temple was restored to its former glory.

Just to the left of Yongyeon-ji pond, and at a bend in the road, you’ll finally approach the temple grounds. The first thing to welcome you to the temple grounds is the rather unique Iljumun Gate. Squat in stature, the gate is both vibrant and elaborate in the decorative artwork that adorns it.

A little further up the trail, and the path forks to both the right and left at the temple’s tea shop. To the right lays the temple’s main courtyard, while to the left lies the temple’s Jeokmyeol Bogung (a shrine that houses the Buddha’s remains established by the monk Jajang-yulsa).

To the right, you’ll first make your way through the temple’s Cheonwangmun Gate. Housed inside this gate are four older looking murals dedicated to the Four Heavenly Kings. Emerging on the other side of the Anyang-ru Pavilion, you’ll finally be situated in the centre of the temple’s main courtyard.

Straight ahead is the early 18th century Geukrak-jeon main hall at Yongyeonsa Temple. The exterior walls are lined with various Buddhist-motif murals like the Bodhidharma, Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa, and several others. Additionally, the lining walls that divide the grounds from the main hall are occupied by devotees’ rosary beads and statues that they’ve left behind. As for the main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon, it’s occupied by a centrally seated Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power and Wisdom for Amita-bul). The interior is also filled with numerous ancient paintings that are spread throughout. These paintings include a mural dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal, as well as protective guardians.

Out in front of the Geukrak-jeon stands a 3.2 metre tall, three-tier stone pagoda that dates back to the early Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) or the late Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935). To the left of the pagoda and the main hall is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Inside are housed three elaborate shaman murals dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And to the right of the main hall stands the Nahan-jeon with beautiful Palsang-do murals decorating the exterior walls. As for the interior, and sitting in the centre of the main altar, is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined by two lines of Nahan statues and vibrant paintings of the Historical Disciples of the Buddha.

Back down the pathway that leads through the temples grounds, and back to the part of the trail that forks, you’ll now need to head left to make your way towards the historic Jeokmyeol Bogung. No more than 5 minutes up the hillside lays another compound at Yongyeonsa Temple. Past the newly painted Four Heavenly Kings that await you, and up an uneven set of stone stairs, you’ll be welcomed by the hall that looks out onto the Jeokmyeol Bogung.

During the Imjin War, in 1592, the Buddha’s sari (crystallized remains) that were housed at Tongdosa Temple were safely moved to Mt. Myohyangsan. After the war, the sari were returned to Tongdosa Temple, but a portion of the sari were enshrined at Yongyeongsa Temple by the monk Cheongjin (a disciple of the famed monk, Samyeong-daesa). The ordination altar, or Seokjo Gyedan, that houses the sari was first established in 1613. Alongside Tongdosa Temple and Geumsansa Temple, the ordination altar is only one of three in Korea.

The ordination altar is buttressed by two smaller sized auxiliary halls. And the hall that people can pray inside that looks out onto the Seokjo Gyedan is occupied by several blue Buddha paintings populated by even smaller images of Seokgamoni-bul. As for the exterior walls to this hall, it’s decorated with simplistic Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Daegu Seobu (West) Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #606 and get off after 17 stops, or 27 minutes, at the Dalseong Middle School stop. The stop is across from the middle school. From there, take Bus #600 or the Dalseong 2 bus. After riding either bus for 11 stops, or 31 minutes, get off at the Yongyeonsa Temple stop. From this stop, you’ll need to walk about 1.1 km, or 15 minutes, up the road to get to the temple.

You can take a bus to the temple or you can simply take a taxi from the Daegu Seobu Bus Terminal. The taxi ride should take about 25 minutes, or 14.8 km, and cost about 13,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. Just for being one of three temples in Korea that houses a historic ordination altar, it rates as highly as it does. But there is a lot more to see at Yongyeonsa Temple like the elaborate shaman murals inside the Samseong-gak, as well as the historic murals that fill the Geukrak-jeon main hall. While a bit out of the way, Yongyeonsa Temple makes for a nice day trip in the neighbouring Daegu countryside.

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The squat Iljumun Gate at Yongyeonsa Temple.

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Some of the decorative artwork that adorns the Iljumun Gate.

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The path and Cheonwangmun Gate the leads up to the main temple courtyard.

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One of the Four Heavenly Kings inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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The Geukrak-jeon main hall at Yongyeonsa Temple.

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Some of the murals that adorn the exterior walls to the Geukrak-jeon.

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A closer look at Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa.

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Some of the knick-knacks that have been left behind by temple devotees.

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The main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon.

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One of the historic murals inside the main hall.

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The mural on the back side of the main altar.

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The Gwanseeum-bosal mural inside the Geukrak-jeon.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left of the main hall.

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One of the Shinseon (Spirit Immortals) that adorns the Samseong-gak’s exterior walls.

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A look inside the Samseong-gak hall at a seated Sanshin (Mountain Spirit).

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To the left of the main hall stands the Nahan-jeon.

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One of the Palsang-do murals that adorns the exterior walls of the Nahan-jeon.

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The main altar inside the Nahan-jeon.

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A row of Nahan statues and paintings.

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The path that leads towards the Jeokmyeol Bogung shrine.

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One of the vibrant Four Heavenly Kings near the ordination altar grounds.

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The hall that looks out onto the Seokjo Gyedan.

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Just one of the beautiful Ox-Herding murals that adorns the observational hall.

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And a look at the Seokjo Gyedan ordination altar.

Bukjijangsa Temple – 북지장사 (Daegu)

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Nature reclaiming its own at Bukjijangsa Temple in northern Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Bukjijangsa Temple is located on the south side of the famed Mt. Palgongsan in northern Daegu. In English, the name means “North Jijang Temple,” after the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife. The temple was first believed to have been constructed in 465 A.D. by the monk Guktal-hwasang.

You first approach the temple up a long, uneven, country road. In a bend in the road, and slightly to the right, you’ll encounter the temple’s entry gate. This gate is overgrown by shrubbery, which almost seems like nature is trying to reclaim it. As you enter the gate, you’ll notice two fiercely painted guardians on either side of the walls.

Finally having passed through the entry gate, you’ll find yourself being greeted by the compact main hall. The main hall, which was first constructed in 1623, is largely unadorned all but for the dancheong colour schemes on the exterior walls. Rather remarkably, and this is a first for me, Jijang-bosal sits all alone on the main altar. This stone statue was first found behind the main hall. The mudra that Jijang is striking is a symbolic gesture to ward off evil spirits. It’s believed to date back to the latter half of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.). And while it was found without a pedestal or nimbus, the statue is extremely well preserved for its age.

Just to the left of the main hall is a room, alongside monks’ dorms, that houses a plain shrine hall. Sitting in the centre of the triad of statues is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Uniquely, this triad is joined on the side by a masterful wooden sculpture of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), which is then framed by a fairly common painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King).

One more building in this courtyard is the Sanshin-gak, which houses a gentle-looking mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Uniquely, there are wooden dragon-like door handles placed on all the entries to this shaman shrine hall.

The final part of the temple you can visit is past another set of monks’ dorms and a storage shed, both of which have seen better days. However, during the fall months, the monks hang persimmons from the eaves for them to dry in the warm sunlight. Just behind this storage shed is the Jijang-jeon. For obvious reasons, this hall is extremely popular at Bukjijangsa Temple.

Out in front of this hall are a twin pair of three-story stone pagodas that are believed to date back to the Silla Dynasty. While rather typical in design, they are well preserved and joined by a koi pond near the exit that is well stocked with large fish.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Bukjijangsa Temple is a bit complicated. First, from the Dong Daegu subway stop, you’ll need to head towards Ansim, which is on the first line. After two stops, get off at Ahyanggyo subway stop. Take exit # 2 and head towards the bus station. From there, you can either take bus #401 during the weekdays or the Palgong #2 bus on weekends or holidays. The bus ride will last 30 stops; after which, you’ll need to get off at the Jinin-dong (yangji maeul) stop. From there, you’ll need to walk 25 minutes towards the Daegu Ole gil Palgongsan 1 course (hiking trail). On foot, you’ll head up this road for 18 minutes, or 1.2 km.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Bukjijangsa Temple is beautifully framed by the towering Mt. Palgongsan. In addition to its natural beauty, you can also enjoy the historic, and extremely rare, stone statue of Jijang-bosal that sits inside the main hall. There’s a lot to see at this temple on a restful autumn day.

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A persimmon tree at the entry of the temple.

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Fall colours at Bukjijangsa Temple.

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One of the guardians inside the entry gate at the temple.

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The compact main hall at Bukjijangsa Temple.

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The very rare statue of Jijang-bosal inside the main hall.

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To the left, and inside a makeshift hall, is this triad of statues.

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Just to their right are Dokseong and Yongwang.

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The Sanshin-gak to the rear of the main hall.

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Just one of the dragon-like door handles adorning the Sanshin-gak.

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The mural of Sanshin inside the shaman shrine hall.

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The view from the Sanshin-gak.

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And a look towards the main hall.

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The popular Jijang-jeon at Bukjijangsa Temple.

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A storage building with persimmons hanging from the eaves.

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One of the Silla-era pagodas.

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 And finally, the koi pond at the temple.

Temple Stay: Donghwasa Temple (Daegu)

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 The massive 30 metre tall statue of Yaksayore-bul at Donghwasa Temple in Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

On the northern part of Daegu, on Mt. Palgongsan, sits Donghwasa Temple (Paulownia Blossom Temple). Donghwasa Temple was first built in 493 A.D. by the monk, Geukdal-jonja. Other than the lavishly decorated main hall, the real highlight to this temple is the newer section to the temple and the long path that leads up to it. A massive 30 metre tall stone statue of Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) stands in the centre of an equally beautiful enclave. The enclave is decorated with various shaman deities, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In front of the massive Buddha stand equally massive stone lanterns and pagodas.

The Temple Stay program at Donghwasa Temple is called “Using Meditation in the Search for My True Self.” So it goes without saying that the central focus of this program is meditation. In fact, participants enjoy Seon meditation near stupas of ancient masters where auspicious energy resides. Other interesting features include making prayer beads and a Dharma talk.

For more information on Donghwasa Temple.

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website).

Directions:

From Seoul, take subway lines No. 1 or No. 4 and get off at Seoul Station. Get a KTX Express Train for Dongdaegu Station (about 1 hour 50 minutes), then walk 10 minutes to the front of Pamita Hospital, where you can take Bus No. 1 to Donghwasa Temple (45 minutes).

And from Daegu, from the Seobu (west) Intercity Bus Terminal in Daegu, you’ll need to take the subway, line 1, that heads towards Anshim and get off at Ahyanggyo Station. From here, take Express Bus #1. The ride will take you about 35 minutes, and it brings you right to the temple.


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General Schedule:

Donghwasa Temple runs three separate programs for their Temple Stay program.

A: Donghwasa Temple Regular Schedule: This program is a scheduled program that runs one night and two days.

Day 1:

13:00~13:30 : Registration & Orientation
13:30~15:00 : Temple Manners Opening Ceremony
15:00~16:20 : Self- Introduction
16:30~17:30 : Learn Traditional Buddhist Meal
17:30~18:20 : TBD
18:30~19:00 : Evening Service
19:00~20:30 : Make 108 Prayer’s Beads
20:30~21:00 : Ready for Sleep
21:00~ : Sleep

Day 2:
03:00~03:30 : Wake up & Wash
03:30~04:00 : Dawn Service
04:00~04:30 : 108 Bows
04:30~06:00 : Seon Mediation
06:00~07:30 : Breakfast
07:30~09:00 : Tour of a Hermitage
09:00~10:00 : Dharma Talk
10:00~10:40 : Community Work & Survey
10:40~11:40 : Tea ceremony or Conversation with monks with tea
11:40~: Lunch and closing

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website).

B: Donghwasa Temple Daytime Schedule: This program is run during the day and there are two different programs that people can enjoy.

1. [3~4hr program]

Temple tour and two special activities
– Optional: Seon meditation, Barugongyang, Tea ceremony, Making Lotus Lantern

2. [4~6hr program]
Temple tour and four special acitivities
– Seon meditation, Barugongyang, Tea ceremony, Making Lotus Lantern

C: Donghwasa Temple Rest Schedule: This program has no set schedule and participants can enjoy morning service, meditation, or temple strolls. Also, one can stay just one day or up to a week (depending on vacancies).

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website).

Donghwasa Temple Information:

Address : 35, Dohak-dong Dong-gu Daegu
Tel : +82-53-982-0223 / Fax : +82-53-985-0223
homepage : http://www.dhtemple.org
E-mail : saerom_suk@daum.net

Fees:

Adults: 80,000 won; Teens: 60,000 won; Under 13: 40,000 won (Regular Schedule)

Adults: 20,000 to 30,000 won; Teens: 0 won; Under 13: 0 won (Daytime Schedule)

Adults: 70,000 won; Teens: 50,000 won; Under 13: 40,000 won (Rest Schedule)

Link:

Reservations for the Regular Schedule at Donghwasa Temple.

Reservations for the One Day Schedule at Donghwasa Temple.

 Reservations for the Rest Schedule at Donghwasa Temple.

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 An up-close look at Yaksayore-bul.

Pagyesa Temple – 파계사 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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A beautiful blue sky at Pagyesa Temple in Daegu.

Hello Everyone!

I first visited Pagyesa Temple back in 2005 on a rainy day, and I had long wanted to re-visit this temple ever since. So this past weekend, I made my way back to Daegu and Pagyesa Temple.

Pagyesa Temple dates back to 804 A.D. when it was built by the monk Shimji. It was later re-constructed in 1605 and then again in 1695. In total, there are presently 17 temples buildings at Pagyesa Temple. The name of the temple, Pagye, is in reference to stopping the energy of the earth from running away through the streams that run through the valley on both sides of Pagyesa Temple.

You first approach the secluded temple up a long winding road that is surrounded by beautiful and lush trees on all sides. You’ll know you’re getting closer to the temple when you see a pond to your left. Just a little bit further and you’ll come to the first, of two, temple parking lots.

Up the side winding road, you’ll first be greeted by a large visitor’s centre that’s rather new in age. Next to it sits the temple’s bell pavilion that has a beautiful collection of percussion instruments. And to the left of the bell pavilion is the Jindong-nu. This hall, that you’ll pass under to gain admittance to the temple courtyard, is used for grand Buddhist ceremonies. It was constructed in 1715. The reason that this hall was built where it is was to suppress bad energy.

Stepping into the flagstone courtyard, you’ll immediately be greeted by the beautiful Wontong-jeon main hall at the temple. This is a bit atypical for a temple of this size and importance, but not unheard of. Sitting on the main altar is a solitary statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the right of this statue is a rather large guardian mural. And surrounding all the walls inside this hall are paintings of the various Nahan. As for the exterior, and up near the under part of the ceiling on both sides of the hall, are very uniquely painted patterns.

The main hall is joined on either side of the courtyard by two buildings. The building to the right is the Jeongmuk-dang, which was first built in 1602. And it’s presently used for the monks; while the temple building to the left is the Seolseon-dang, and it’s presently used as a restaurant and a place for training. It was formally used as auditorium for monk lectures.

Behind the main hall lie two more temple buildings. The first is the Sallyeong-gak, which is better known as the Sanshin-gak at other temples, which houses a beautiful old painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). The exterior of this hall is adorned with two of the more unique set of tiger paintings. And behind this hall is the Giyeong-gak, which was built in 1696. The name of this building literally means “Pavilion to pray” in English. It was built for the monk, Hyeoneung, to pray in for the successful birth of an heir to King Sukjong (r.1674-1720). He was directly asked by the king to pray for a boy. Inside this hall sits a collection of statues on the main altar centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And it’s surrounded by seven individual paintings of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). On the right wall sits a painting of Dokseong (The Recluse).

The other two buildings found at Pagyesa Temple are the Jijang-jeon and the Geukrak-jeon, both of which lie to the left of the main temple courtyard. Both buildings are rather plain all except for the beautiful statues that sit on the main altar inside both of these halls. But be warned that during the summer months there is a rather rancid smelling bathroom before both of these halls.

Admission to the temple is a very reasonable 1,000 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Pagyesa Temple, you’ll need to take Line 1 on the Daegu subway system to get to Ayanggyo Station. After taking exit #2, and making your way to the neighbouring bus stop, you can either take bus #101, 101-1, or Express Bus #1, all of which bring you to the bus parking lot at the base of Palgongsan Provincial Park. From the bus parking lot, it’s a rather steep 1.1 kilometre hike to the entrance of Pagyesa Temple. 


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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed by my return to this temple. Sometimes, a fond memory takes precedence over reality. With that being said, there are a few definite highlights to this temple like the beautiful Sanshin-gak and its accompanying murals. Also, the multi-Chilseong paintings and the interior of the Wontong-jeon are a few more highlights, as is the ancient Jindong-nu. And with the close proximity of Donghwasa Temple, Buinsa Temple, and Songnimsa Temple, the Palgongsan area, and Pagyesa Temple in particular, make for a nice day trip to Daegu.

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The visitors’ centre at Pagyesa Temple with the bell pavilion to the left.
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The Jindong-nu hall.
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Underneath the Jindong-nu, and you’ll finally enter the temple courtyard.
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The Wontong-jeon, or main hall, at Pagyesa Temple.
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The view from the Wontong-jeon out onto the temple courtyard.
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Some of the unique lattice artwork that adorns the main hall.
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Inside the Wontong-jeon, and sitting on the main altar, is this solitary statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.
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Behind the main hall is the Sanshin-gak.
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Inside the Sanshin-gak is this older, yet beautiful, Sanshin mural.
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Outside, and to the left, is this unique tiger painting on the Sanshin-gak.
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A look at the Giyeong-gak at Pagyesa Temple.
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A look inside the Giyeong-gak at the seven Chilseong murals and the main altar.
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Over the knoll, and to the left of the temple courtyard, is the Jijang-jeon.
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And even further left is the Geukrak-jeon.
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Inside, and sitting on the main altar, is a statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).
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When I visited, all these beautiful red roses were in bloom.

Biroam Hermitage – 비로암 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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A look at the three tier stone pagoda that dates back to 863, as well as the main hall in the background, at Biroam Hermitage in Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

You first make your way towards Biroam Hermitage up a paved road for about 50 metres. This paved road merges with the Donghwasa Temple parking lot, so it’s a pretty easy location to find.

Biroam Hermitage is compactly filled with various buildings on the hermitage grounds. Unfortunately, the only hall that you can enter is the main hall. The main hall itself is painted in the traditional Dancheong colours. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, is a well preserved stone statue of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). This stone statue dates back to around 863 A.D., and it’s the only object of worship inside the rather small hall. This statue of Birojana-bul is a good example of the popular Buddha during the ninth century. It’s believed that this specific statue was created to commemorate King Minae (r.838-839) during the reign of King Gyeongmun (r.861-875). Around the Buddha’s entire body is an equally well preserved nimbus. Fortunately for us, they’ve striped the statue of its garish white paint and returned it to its natural stone colour.

Out in front of the main hall is a newer looking stone lantern. And it’s in front of this stone lantern that you can see the three storied stone pagoda. This stone pagoda dates back to around 863, much like the stone statue of Birojana-bul inside the Daejeokgwang-jeon. And while it’s simple in design; for its age, it’s well preserved.

All the other buildings or halls are off-limits to temple travelers. In front of the main hall, and the pagoda, are the monks’ quarters. And to the immediate right of the main hall are the monks’ facilities like the kitchen.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Seobu (west) Intercity Bus Terminal in Daegu, you’ll need to take the subway, line 1, that heads towards Anshim and get off at Ahyanggyo Station. From here, take Express Bus #1. The ride will take you about 35 minutes, and it brings you right to Donghwasa Temple. Past the main gate, and up the temple road, you’ll get to the temple parking lot. From the temple parking lot, instead of heading straight towards Donghwasa Temple, hang a right towards a paved pathway. There are a couple small signs pointing you towards Biroam Hermitage.


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OVERALL RATING: 4/10. After visiting Donghwasa Temple, you’ll be a bit underwhelmed by Biroam Hermitage. However, with that being said, there are a couple reasons why you should visit this small hermitage. The first reason is to see the well-preserved statue of Birojana-bul inside the main hall. And the second reason is to see the three tier pagoda inside the temple courtyard. Both objects date back to 863 A.D., and they are a good glimpse into Korea’s past.

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The road that leads to Biroam Hermitage.

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The hermitage courtyard.

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A look at the three tier stone pagoda that dates back to 863 A.D.

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The main hall at Biroam Hermitage.

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A cute little stone ornament outside the main hall.

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A look inside the main hall at the stone Birojana-bul statue that dates back to around 863 A.D.

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The view from the main hall out onto the hermitage.

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One last look at the ancient pagoda before heading home.

Buinsa Temple – 부인사 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The colourful temple courtyard at Buinsa Temple in Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Buinsa Temple was first established in the 7th century, during the reign of Queen Seondeok (r.632-647 A.D.). “Buin,” in English, is an honourific way to refer to a lady. So the temple means, in reference to Queen Seondeok, Lady Temple. As for the history of the temple, it was the former temple that housed the Tripitaka Koreana, which are wooden blocks that contain the Buddhist scriptures. However, this first set was destroyed in 1232 by the invading Mongols. They were later reconstructed between 1236 to 1251, and they are now stored at Haeinsa Temple, near Hapcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do.

You first approach Buinsa Temple up a single narrow road. You’ll first be greeted by a collection of stupas and stele out in front of a forest. This forest is where Buinsa Temple was formally located. If you swing to the right, and up an uneven set of stone stairs, you’ll see a collection of stone pieces that were part of the former temple buildings. You could head left up the road, but then you would miss these former remains, as well as a twin pair of pagodas. The pagoda to the left has been battered by time, while the pagoda to the right has an all new body placed on its ancient base.

In front of these pagodas is the Samgwang-ru. You’ll need to pass underneath this long hall to gain entrance to the temple courtyard. When I visited, the temple was fully adorned with beautiful and colourful paper lanterns hanging all throughout the temple courtyard.

Past this canopy of colour, and you’ll see the large main hall in front of it. Uniquely, the main hall is surrounded by paintings of numerous Nahan. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, are a set of statues centred by Seokagomoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s then joined by two more smaller sized Buddha statues; which, in turn, are book-ended by a pair of statues of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom), as well as Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the left of the main altar is a shrine for the dead, while hanging on the right wall is a rather plain guardian mural.

To the immediate right of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon. In front of this hall is a rather unique stone lantern. Instead of housing a chamber for a single candle, it has a twin chamber for two candles side-by-side. As for the Myeongbu-jeon Hall itself, and sitting on the main altar, is a bronze coloured Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s joined on either side of the altar by attendants. And the entire main altar is surrounded by ten uniquely sculpted statues of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. Rather rarely, the Myeongbu-jeon Hall’s exterior is surrounded by the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals.

In between the main hall and the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, and to the rear, is the solitary Sanshin-gak. This newer hall is joined by beautiful flowers that were fully in bloom when I visited. The exterior has a cool looking tiger adorning the right side of the wall. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is a beautiful Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural. The golden Sanshin is joined by seven tigers (six of which are babies). Additionally, Sanshin and the tigers are placed under a sun and a moon.

To the left of the main altar, but behind the monks’ quarters, is a hall that houses Chilseong (The Seven Stars) on the main altar. Chilseong is joined by Dokseong (The Recluse), who takes up residence on the far left wall. Both are then joined by very unique paintings and statues of the 16 Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha).

The only other building at Buinsa Temple is a shrine hall dedicated to Queen Seondeok, the namesake of the temple. Unfortunately, this building was off-limits, as it was locked. However, you can see the beautiful murals that surround the hall of Queen Seondeok. This hall is to the far left as you first approach the temple courtyard.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Dong Daegu Intercity Bus Terminal, you should take bus #101-1 (heading to Pagyesa Temple). When you arrive at Pagyesa Temple, after 27 stops, you’ll then have to catch bus #Palgong 3. In total, you’ll only have to take this bus for 2 stops. You’ll be dropped off across from Buinsa Temple. After being dropped off, you’ll have to walk about 5 to 10 minutes, or 439 metres, to Buinsa Temple.


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OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Buinsa Temple is filled with a few nice surprises like the hall dedicated to Queen Seondeok. And if you’re lucky enough to visit Buinsa Temple during Buddha’s birthday, you’ll see the beautiful paper lanterns overhead in the temple courtyard. Additionally, the beautiful shaman hall, as well as the unique Sanshin painting make for yet another beautiful temple to visit on Mt. Palgongsan in Daegu.

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The stupas and stele that sit out in front of the temple.

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What remains of the old temple masonry.

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The beautiful stone lantern and pagoda that rest just out in front of the temple courtyard.

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Underneath the Samgwang-ru Hall, and you’ll gain admittance to Buinsa Temple.

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Again, some more of the colourful paper lanterns that decorate the temple courtyard.

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A look at the beautiful temple courtyard with the main hall to the right.

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The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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To the right of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

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Inside, and resting on the main altar, is the bronze coloured Jijang-bosal.

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The beautiful view from the Myeongbu-jeon to the Daeung-jeon.

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Behind both buildings, and to the right, is the Sanshin-gak.

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Housed inside this shaman hall is this elaborate painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and seven tigers.

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The beautiful view of the Sanshin-gak and the well manicured grounds at Buinsa Temple.

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The shaman hall to the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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Sitting on the main altar is Chilseong (The Seven Stars).

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The beautiful view from the shaman hall.

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To the far left is a shrine hall dedicated to Queen Seondeok.

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 The hall that’s dedicated to Queen Seondeok. If you look close enough, you can see murals that portray her.